Somehow They Don’t Seem Overly Concerned

Optics do matter in politics. However, some of our politicians are so accustomed to the media covering up their antics that they don’t even worry about the optics anymore. This was obvious last weekend when thirty Democrats headed out for a fun weekend in Puerto Rico despite the continuing government shutdown.

On Friday The Washington Examiner posted an article about the weekend trip.

The article reports:

Some 30 Democratic lawmakers left the government shutdown behind Friday on a chartered flight to Puerto Rico for a winter retreat with 109 lobbyists and corporate executives during which they planned to see the hit Broadway show “Hamilton” and attend three parties including one with the show’s cast.

Those attending the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC winter retreat in San Juan planned to meet with key officials to discuss the cleanup after Hurricane Maria at a roundtable Saturday.

But the weekend is packed with free time for the members and their families on the trip.

“We are excited for you to join us for CHC BOLD PAC’s 2019 Winter Retreat in San Juan, Puerto Rico! Each year, this retreat serves as a way for our CHC BOLD PAC Members and friends in the D.C. community to come together to escape the cold and discuss our shared priorities for a stronger and more prosperous country,” said a memo on the trip.

Some 109 lobbyists and corporate executives are named in the memo, a rate of 3.6 lobbyists for every member. They include those from several big K Street firms, R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions like the National Education Association.

What chance does the average American citizen have in getting the ear of his Congressman when lobbying groups can do this sort of thing?

The press release regarding the event is predictable–it blames President Trump for the shutdown and explains that the event was scheduled months before the shutdown. President Trump is at least partially responsible for the shutdown, but another aspect of the shutdown is the refusal of Representative Pelosi to negotiate. Having thirty of your Democrat Congressmen running off to Puerto Rico to party when the government is shut down does not make good political optics. I wonder if the American people will notice.

Legislating Against The Middle Class

Everyone loves vacations–the adventure of spending a few days in a different place and relaxing. However, vacations are not cheap. Travel can be expensive, and hotels are expensive. Several alternatives to hotels have appeared in recent years to make vacations more affordable and to give Americans a way to supplement their income–companies like Airbnb provide cheaper lodging at popular destinations and allow people to earn extra income by renting out their houses on a short-term basis. Needless to say, hotels are not happy about the existence of a cheaper alternative. In Massachusetts, the hotel lobby has been successful in creating regulations that will greatly limit the availability of Airbnb lodging.

On December 30, Hot Air posted an article about a law recently passed in Massachusetts that will probably end Airbnb in that state.

The article reports:

Baker (Governor Charlie Baker) is touting this as a compromise which he claims is able to, “avoid placing undue burdens on occasional renters.” This is nonsense, of course, because in order to qualify for the exemptions to most (though not all) of these new burdens on hosts, you can only rent out your room for a maximum of fourteen nights per year. For most hosts, that’s not going to be worth the bother of signing up for the app in the first place.

The article lists the new requirements for people who want to rent their property on a short-term basis:

And what are these burdens? First of all, anyone with a spare room will now have to carry the same type of insurance as a hotel chain, basically wiping out any profit they might make. On top of that, they’ll be paying a 5.7 percent state tax, plus another 6% tax if municipal or county governments decide to impose one.

Further, hosts will be legally required to list themselves on a publicly available registry. Proponents claim this allows neighbors to know who is renting out rooms to “strangers” but it’s obviously intended as an intimidation tactic, opening up hosts to public shaming, abuse or worse.

The bottom line here is that the hotel industry and their lobbyists have won a massive victory. They don’t like private citizens cutting into their business so they’ve greased the palms of enough politicians to essentially shut Airbnb down in the state. As the New York Times reported more than a year ago, leaked documents from the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) revealed, “a multipronged, national campaign approach at the local, state and federal level.” The goal of that campaign was to enlist elected Democrats to pass laws which would choke the life out of Airbnb and protect their profits. They specifically mentioned Boston as one of their key target markets, and now they have succeeded in bribing the state government to shut Airbnb down.

The article concludes:

It’s true that some people have begun “abusing” the system by purchasing large amounts of property and renting it out like a hotel using the app service. Perhaps a law like this might have been more palatable if it were applied only to people with more than ten rental units or something along those lines. But for all the private individuals with an extra room or a guest house who were using the system as originally intended and making a little extra money, this basically shuts them out of the game.

Airbnb already has one lawsuit in progress against Boston for similar municipal laws they passed earlier. Now they’re saying a new suit against the state may be coming. But if they find no satisfaction through the courts we’re probably seeing the beginning of the death of the gig economy along with the chance for private citizens to profit from their own homes or apartments.

I hope Airbnb wins their lawsuit. They are essentially the Uber of the hotel industry and are going to have to fight many of the battles against lobbyists that Uber had to fight.

Some Things Are Not Partisan

We need to remember to watch what Congress does–not what it says. The Republicans in Congress would have you believe that they are pro-life and for secure borders, but their votes tell a different story. Why? Because unfortunately moneyed interests in Washington have more power than the voice of the voters.

Yesterday One America News reported the following:

Senator Rand Paul criticizes the Republican party’s leadership over its lack of fiscal responsibility. This comes after the GOP blocked a key pro-life measure proposed by the Kentucky senator.

The measure would have blocked funding to Planned Parenthood. I suggest that Congress block funding to any organization that pays Congressional lobbyists, sponsors political PAC’s, or makes campaign contributions. I don’t want to limit their rights, but if they are getting money from Congress, they should not be using that money to lobby Congress or make political contributions. That sounds an awful lot like money laundering.

A Marist poll taken in January 2018 shows the following:

A visit to OpenSecrets,org will provide a few clues as to why Planned Parenthood is still receiving taxpayer money–they make large donations to the political campaigns of some Congressmen.

Another issue where we need to watch actions rather than words is border security. If Congress wanted to build the wall and secure the border, wouldn’t they? The Democrats held the majority in the beginning of President Obama’s term and didn’t deal with illegal immigration, and the Republicans have the majority now and haven’t dealt with illegal immigration. Why? The Democrats want the votes of legalized illegal immigrants and the corporate donors to the Republicans want the cheap labor of illegal immigrants (legalized or not). Neither group represents the interests of the American people.

So what is the answer? Look at the voting records of your Congressmen. Decide if those votes reflect your interests. Look to see what votes were show votes to appease the voters when the Congressman knew that he would not be a deciding vote. Drain the swamp.

Equal Justice Under The Law?

It has become very obvious in recent years that people close to the Clintons who break the law are held to a different standard than the rest of us. The amount of evidence destroyed in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private server is amazing–and no one was ever charged with destroying evidence. Now we have a new example of how to break laws with no consequences if you are a supporter of the Clintons.

The American Thinker posted the following today:

Tony Podesta, the Democratic über-operative and brother of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, has been offered immunity from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in exchange for his testimony against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.  The two men were doing the exact same “crime,” which was acting as unregistered lobbyists on behalf of the Ukrainian government, but Podesta skates, while Manafort goes to prison for the rest of his life.

As Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who broke the story, pointed out, the only difference between them is that Manafort worked for Donald Trump.

Is there anyone honest enough in Washington to call ‘shenanigans?’ This should chill every person who has ever done business overseas or worked in Washington. I have news–if this is allowed to stand, it could happen to anyone in the future if the tables are turned. I would hope the political right would be too honest for this sort of thing, but this sets a precedent that is frightening.

The article concludes:

What we are seeing is one set of laws for Democrats and another set of laws for Republicans.  Its analogy in the press is media bias – one kind of coverage for Republicans, and another kind for Democrats, as we recently saw with the undocumented children case, which it turns out was President Obama’s doing, not President Trump’s, but guess who got the wall-to-wall coverage.  People notice things like that.  The Deep State doesn’t, but normal people do see these double standards.  Double sets of laws for the elites and masses are precisely why voters turned to Donald Trump back in 2016.

This Manafort-Podesta thing isn’t about justice.  It’s about the Deep State’s bid to preserve its power.  It can only serve as rocket fuel for Trump.

I hope this injustice encourages voters to vote out of office anyone who has supported this witch hunt.

How Does This Make Sense?

Planned Parenthood is an organization that takes money from the federal government. They are also an organization that lobbies the federal government. They are also an organization that makes political contributions. How do we know that our taxpayer dollars that go to Planned Parenthood don’t wind up in the pockets of lobbyists or politicians? I don’t think we do.

The following is a tweet from Vice-President Pense:

Do as I say, not as I do?